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10.6.2 Telling CVS to notify you

You can tell CVS that you want to receive notifications about various actions taken on a file. You can do this without using cvs watch on for the file, but generally you will want to use cvs watch on, to remind developers to use the cvs edit command.

Command: cvs watch add [-lR] [-a action]… [files]…

Add the current user to the list of people to receive notification of work done on files.

The -a option specifies what kinds of events CVS should notify the user about. action is one of the following:


Another user has applied the cvs edit command (described below) to a watched file.


Another user has committed changes to one of the named files.


Another user has abandoned editing a file (other than by committing changes). They can do this in several ways, by:

  • applying the cvs unedit command (described below) to the file
  • applying the cvs release command (see section release—Indicate that a Module is no longer in use) to the file's parent directory (or recursively to a directory more than one level up)
  • deleting the file and allowing cvs update to recreate it

All of the above.


None of the above. (This is useful with cvs edit, described below.)

The -a option may appear more than once, or not at all. If omitted, the action defaults to all.

The files and options are processed as for cvs watch on.

Command: cvs watch remove [-lR] [-a action]… [files]…

Remove a notification request established using cvs watch add; the arguments are the same. If the -a option is present, only watches for the specified actions are removed.

When the conditions exist for notification, CVS calls the `notify' administrative file. Edit `notify' as one edits the other administrative files (see section The administrative files). This file follows the usual conventions for administrative files (see section The common syntax), where each line is a regular expression followed by a command to execute. The command should contain a single occurrence of `%s' which will be replaced by the user to notify; the rest of the information regarding the notification will be supplied to the command on standard input. The standard thing to put in the notify file is the single line:

ALL mail %s -s "CVS notification"

This causes users to be notified by electronic mail.

Note that if you set this up in the straightforward way, users receive notifications on the server machine. One could of course write a `notify' script which directed notifications elsewhere, but to make this easy, CVS allows you to associate a notification address for each user. To do so create a file `users' in `CVSROOT' with a line for each user in the format user:value. Then instead of passing the name of the user to be notified to `notify', CVS will pass the value (normally an email address on some other machine).

CVS does not notify you for your own changes. Currently this check is done based on whether the user name of the person taking the action which triggers notification matches the user name of the person getting notification. In fact, in general, the watches features only track one edit by each user. It probably would be more useful if watches tracked each working directory separately, so this behavior might be worth changing.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire